Amy Coney Barrett Argues Supreme Court Justices Aren't 'Partisan Hacks' After Controversial Abortion Ruling

"Sometimes, I don't like the results of my decisions," Barrett insisted on Sunday. "But it's not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want"

Amy Coney Barrett
Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty

Less than two weeks after the Supreme Court's conservative wing allowed a highly restrictive abortion ban to become law in Texas, Justice Amy Coney Barrett argued that she and her fellow judges are "hyper vigilant to make sure they're not letting personal biases creep into their decisions."

"Judges are people, too," Barrett, 49, said on Sunday, speaking at length about the determination of those that sit on the nation's highest court to — in her words — leave their personal beliefs as well as politics out of legal decisions, the Associated Press reports.

Barrett spoke at an event hosted by the University of Louisville's McConnell Center to mark its 30th anniversary. "My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks," she said, according to The Louisville Courier Journal.

"Sometimes, I don't like the results of my decisions," she added. "But it's not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want."

Supporters of women's reproductive rights were outraged over Texas' Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions after six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.

In a highly unusual provision, the law is enforced by private citizens rather than the government: Anyone can sue anyone else who aided in an unlawful abortion — with penalties starting at $10,000.

The Supreme Court ruled five-to-four last week against an emergency application seeking to stop the ban, which would essentially prevent abortions in Texas. The court's decision drew sharp condemnation from the minority, including the three liberal judges, who called it "stunning."

But the majority, including Barrett, insisted they ruled on procedural rather than constitutional grounds and they would allow other objections to the law.

It was a major setback for supporters of abortion access, who have long argued that Republican-nominated judges like Barrett would eventually seek to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortions nationwide.

President Joe Biden has expressed his opposition to the bill and the Supreme Court's decision not to stop it, calling the latter an "unprecedented assault on a woman's constitutional rights."

Attorney General Merrick Garland also indicated the Justice Department will look for ways under its authority to allow women to keep the rights granted them in Roe vs. Wade.

"We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health service," Garland said earlier this month.

AUSTIN, TX - SEPT 1: Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 in Austin, TX. Texas passed SB8 which effectively bans nearly all abortions and it went into effect Sept. 1. A request to the Supreme Court to block the bill went unanswered and the Court still has yet to take any action on it.
Protestors march in Texas to fight the new abortion law. Sergio Flores/Getty

In her comments at the McConnell Center event, Barrett — whose nomination by President Donald Trump following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the final days of his term was confirmed in the Mitch McConnell-led Senate — maintained that the court's decision-making process was nonpartisan, despite the criticism.

"To say the court's reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner," Barrett said, according to the AP. "I think we need to evaluate what the court is doing on its own terms."

"The media, along with hot takes on Twitter, report the results and decisions," she said. "That makes the decision seem results-oriented. It leaves the reader to judge whether the court was right or wrong, based on whether she liked the results of the decision."

Other justices have argued similarly — including John Roberts, the Republican-appointed chief justice, who is vigilant about the court's public perception and has tried to downplay the role of politics. He joined the three liberals in voting to stop the abortion ban from taking effect.

On Sunday, when asked specifically about the Texas law, Barrett declined to answer questions submitted by students in advance, saying it would be "inappropriate" to comment on specific cases, the AP reports.

However, she did share a glimpse into her life as a Supreme Court justice and mother, saying her seven children help her stay grounded in a "regular life," which includes "running carpools, throwing birthday parties, being ordered around."

"I have an important job, but I certainly am no more important than anyone else in the grocery store checkout line," Barrett said, adding that her kids are not "particularly impressed" with her influential role as a member of the high court.

Barrett also said she wanted young women to know that balancing motherhood and family life with a successful career in public service is possible and that the Supreme Court is a "warm, collegial place."

McConnell, who was instrumental in pushing through the razor-thin vote to confirm Barrett last October, introduced the justice at Sunday's event.

According to the reports, supporters of women's reproductive rights demonstrated outside the Seelbach Hotel, where the private event was held.

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